…by the famous artist Luke Fildes
The first painting of the famous artist (Samuel) Luke Fildes (1844-1927) of England. Fildes had been illustrating books until he completed this painting in 1872. It was “hung on the line” in the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1872. The critics of the time, perhaps in a bit of protest over a first painting being given such a prominent position in the exhibition, said of the work, “Mr. Fildes has made a gallant but not great debut. Do not let him allow his younger friends to persuade him that he has really done much more than given proof that he can handle brushes and colours deftly and effectively.” The article where I found that quotation went on to say that the artist himself would have most likely agreed with that comment.
The painting depicts a group of young people enjoying each other’s company in a small boat on a river. A young man plays the violin for the pleasure of his friends and a beautiful pair of white swans. I find this painting quite lovely, if not sentimental. To think that this was Fildes’ first work, it’s no wonder all these years after his death he is remembered fondly as one of the most famous artists of England.